Will Democrats jump gun to 'prebut' State of the Union?


Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 12:02 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Prepare for a surge of "prebutting" in advance of President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night. New to the Washington lexicon, that word defines the act of rebutting someone's speech or announcement before the person even opens his mouth to speak.

Reporters received a deluge of "prebuttal" e-mails and faxes from Democrats and even some Republicans hours before Bush unveiled his new strategy for Iraq recently, all criticizing his points before he made them publicly.

The same is forecast for the run-up to Bush's annual address. Only question: Will the GOP issue a pre-emptive prebuttal before Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb gives his party's official rebuttal after the president's speech?

The Coast Guard quietly reported this week a decided uptick in the number of Cubans fleeing their country. Between Jan. 5 and 8, seven boats carrying a total of 91 Cubans were intercepted off Florida, the Bahamas and the Dry Tortugas. With Cuban leader Fidel Castro ailing, the Coast Guard has been on alert for just such a swell of migrants making a run for the United States.

Black historians and families researching their forbears could have a new national database to plumb if a Senate measure wins favor on Capitol Hill. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is proposing the creation of the database at the National Archives to offer a central registry of emancipation records, land deeds, wills, voter-registration and other far-flung documents from the slavery, Reconstruction and pre-civil-rights eras. In the House, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., is sponsoring a similar bill.

On a mission for better, more accurate portrayals by the movie industry, the FBI is holding workshops for screenwriters in Hollywood. In the four-hour seminars, attendees receive a quick course in the FBI's history, Sunni-Shiite Muslim clashes through the years and terrorist tactics, as well as insights into how the agency conducts its domestic terror-related investigations.

The goal, FBI leaders say, is to engender more positive portrayals of the FBI. As the Pentagon has learned, the FBI knows that a good movie can be a boon to recruitment. Jodie Foster's portrayal of an agent in "The Silence of the Lambs" apparently spurred scores of women to apply to the bureau, the FBI said.

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